Last Friday night I was front and center for the opening night of Osteria Venti, the new Michele Forgione restaurant in Old Montreal. This was the realization of a lifelong dream for the Montreal chef and one I was happy to play a small part in just by being there. Osetria Venti has been named that because of Chef Forgione’s desire to celebrate the cuisine of all 20 (venti) Italian regions. A few of my fellow bloggers and Michele fans had been impatiently waiting for a few weeks for this hot new restaurant to open. I knew the food would be amazing since I know for a fact that Michele makes everything from scratch, from the bread to the pasta to the salumi (charcuterie). I had also tasted his food once before and had been blown away by how good everything was.
Let me just start by saying that it is impossible to pick just one or 2 dishes from the menu! Everything sounds so delicious and I wanted to try everything! Thankfully, I was sitting at a table with 5 people who felt the same so we decided to order as many things as we could and share. The evening started with some shared appetizers. The homemade salumi (cured meats) is a must for any meat lovers out there. All the cured meats are excellent but I particularly liked the mortadella and the marinated vegetables that accompanied the platter. The octopus salad is tender and juicy and the fennel adds a crunch and freshness to it.
I was looking forward to tasting the caponata crostini that had caught my eye on the menu but I ended up liking the cod one better. If you do vsit Osteria Venti soon -and I urge you to do so!- promise me you will order the pallote marcovecchio or veal meatball. It might not look like the perfect meatball, all round and symmetrical, but don’t be fooled by appearances because this is THE perfect meatball! Tender, juicy, cheesy, served with a very simple tomato sauce, beautifully simple yet delicious. If you happen to ask the chef about it, you will hear him say: “eggs, veal and parmesan, that’s all, simple” I suspect there’s more to it…
We then moved on to our order of primi and secondi piatti. The gnocchi were unfortunately not available that night, which I must admit was a disappointment because, in case you still haven’t heard, chef Forgione makes the best ricotta gnocchi in town, hands down! The fact that they weren’t available that night just means I’ll have to go back soon So we ordered the spaghetti aglio e olio with bottarga (dried and cured fish roe) the fresh pea agnolotti which tasted like biting into fresh creamy peas (another thing you must promise to order on your visit to Venti) and the absolutely delicious (stuff-dreams-are-made-of) porchetta. I had tasted this porchetta before and this second time around was just as good, just as crispy on the outside and just as tender and juicy on the inside. Yes, I know, I am starting to develop a real addiction to crispy pork but I don’t care, this is so good! The St-Canut farm piglet is cooked to perfection and served with half a poached pear to balance the richness of the meat and to cut through its fattiness… Absolute perfection!
If you know me just a little bit by now then you know I was looking forward to the desserts! We ordered everything on the dessert menu except for the fruit and the biscotti. The desserts at this osteria are classic Italian, and yes, you will find a tiramisu on there, but not just any tiramisu, chef Forgione’s mother’s divinely rich and fluffy tiramisu. I wonder if he’d be willing to share the recipe? You will also find bomboloni on the menu, homemade Italian donuts served with a chocolate and hazelnut sauce: simple yet made so well. What better way to end a night at an Italian osteria than with a homemade Nutella sauce?
I’ve been a big fan of Michele ever since I tasted his cuisine a few months ago and I am so happy he’s seeing his dream of opening his very own restaurant come true. Michele, congratulations again! I wish you a lot of luck, but I don’t think you’ll need it because your food speaks for itself and will win over anyone by the first bite!
Follow Michele on twitter: @MicheleForgine
372 St-Paul West
514 284 0445
LUNCH (starting April 26th)
Tuesday to Friday: 11:30am to 2:30pm
Tuesday to Wednesday: 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 5:30pm to 11:00pm